In preparation for her Top Fuel debut at the upcoming Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Ashley Sanford has signed popular indoor go-kart facility K1 Speed as a marketing partner for the event. Sanford will be driving the Lagana Brothers’ competitive Nitro Ninja dragster, the same car she used to earn her Top Fuel license.
“I couldn't be more thrilled to be teaming up with K1 Speed and have the honor to take them to the Lucas Oil Raceway and compete at the U.S. Nationals,” said Sanford. “I have been looking forward to racing in the Top Fuel class my entire life, and getting to make my debut at the NHRA's biggest race with the help of K1 Speed is going to make this experience even more spectacular.”
Prior to the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Sanford and K1 Speed will be hosting a meet-and-greet experience for fans at K1 Speed Indianapolis, located in the North Indy suburb of Fishers. The fan appreciation event will be held Thursday, August 31, from 7-10 p.m.
After earning her Top Fuel license earlier this season, Sanford was understandably excited to see her name appear on the official NHRA Indy pre-entry list, but she has also noticed that there are approximately 20 other Top Fuel racers competing at the sport’s marquee event, so qualifying is not a given for anyone. The current level of competition in NHRA’s nitro classes is well documented, but Sanford isn’t the least bit concerned.
“I’m so excited I can barely put it into words,” said Sanford. “It’s the ultimate to compete against the best in the world at the biggest race in the world. It’s surreal. My No. 1 goal is to just qualify and put ourselves in a good spot for [Monday’s final eliminations]. That might be a lot to ask because the U.S. Nationals is the toughest race of the year. There is extra added pressure and everyone brings their ‘A game,’ but I like to think I thrive under pressure. I know that Dom and Bobby Lagana feel same way.”
After getting her start in sand racing, Sanford has competed in the Top Alcohol Dragster class for the last four seasons. She has run in the 5.2s and has topped 275 mph in her Gelish injected-nitro dragster, but she also admits that experience didn’t totally prepare her for the rush of racing a Top Fuel dragster. During her licensing runs, Sanford ran in the low 3.8s and topped 319 mph. Prior to her debut, Sanford plans to take part in the annual pre-Indy test session, held Aug. 23-24, at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
“Nothing compares to driving a Top Fuel car,” Sanford said. “My alcohol car is pretty quick, but it’s nothing like the nitro car, especially in the second half of the track. It takes your breath away.”
Sanford also believes that since she competed in Indy last season in her alcohol car, she won’t be nearly as overwhelmed the next time she sets foot on the hallowed grounds of Indy.
“I’ve just started to have those thoughts, thinking about things like coming through the doors for driver introductions,” she said. “I really want to try and focus on how I perform. I know that there is an adjustment moving from the alcohol classes. We’re going to have a lot more fans at our pits, and that’s a great thing.
“I’m also looking forward to our pre-race event at K1 Speed in Indianapolis on Thursday night,” she added. “This will give us a chance to meet the fans and have them experience the fun of racing K1 Speed go-karts. We’ll be releasing additional info via my social media accounts very soon.”